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Game Day Preview #80, Los Angeles Kings @ Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes’ season is on the line. Do the Kings play spoiler?

Los Angeles Kings v Arizona Coyotes Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

HOW TO WATCH

Game Time: 7:00 PM Pacific
TV: Prime
Radio: iHeart Radio
The Opposition: Five for Howling

The Opposition

Tonight’s opponent is desperately clinging to their playoff hopes. A loss tonight for the Arizona Coyotes wouldn’t eliminate them, but it would widen the gap between them and the Colorado Avalanche, currently holding the last wild card spot in the West.

At a time when the Coyotes need to dig deep and fight for every point, they’ve managed to go 4-3-3 in their last 10 games. An ill-timed five-game losing streak, combined with losses to Western Conference rivals in Colorado and Chicago, are making the post-season an uphill battle for the Coyotes.

The fact that they’re even in the conversation at all, despite an injury-ravaged roster, including a lower-body injury that ended starting goaltender Antti Raanta’s season back in November, is a tantalizing look at what the Coyotes could be, if the team could just stay healthy and perform consistently.

Scoring’s been a struggle for the Coyotes this year. They don’t have a 20-goal scorer on their roster, and were one of the last teams to have someone reach double digits at all in goals. (The Kings were, of course, last.) Their 202 goals for is 28th in the league (yet still better than the Kings, sitting in 30th with 189 goals scored). But their defense and goaltending has been solid, largely thanks to Darcy Kuemper, shouldering a much larger workload than expected with the absence of Raanta. The Coyotes have allowed just 212 goals, which is why they’re still in the playoff conversation at all.

This is a huge game for the Coyotes; expect them to come out and play like their season is on the line — because it is.

The Kings

Drew Doughty just wants to get the rest of this season over with. Well, so do we, Drew. So do we.

Last night’s game was an embarrassment, no way around it. With nothing left to play for, the effort from most of the members of the Kings has been, well, low.

So just enjoy the night for what it is. A chance to play spoiler for the Coyotes. A chance to see what Austin Wagner can do with his 8:51 average time on ice. Ponder if Carl Grundstrom can be molded into a Dustin Brown-like player, with heavy hits and some convenient scoring. Another look at young defensemen like Matt Roy and Sean Walker (or Paul LaDue, if he actually exists). Another look at Jack Campbell, as he’ll presumably start tonight after performing admirably in relief (again) of Jonathan Quick.

There’s nothing to play for, but watch who’s still playing hard anyway. That will tell you a lot about the Kings of the future.

Lineup Notes

Quick, Watch This